Anne B. Walsh - Do you believe in magic?

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Anne's Randomness

My new toy

So while it's not good that my cell phone got lost in the crash (and with it most of my pictures of the cats and all my pictures of Bruce the Very Large Dog, boo hiss), it did mean I had to get a new phone, and the new phone is capable of playing nice with a little thing called Paypal Here. Which means I now have a magic card swiper.
In other words, if you should happen to stroll up to the Anne B. Walsh table at a convention, and you wish to buy a book but you have no cash, I can now accommodate you! Simply slide your card through the small, triangular item plugged into the bottom of my phone, sign my screen, and, as they don't say, viola! Your book is paid for.
Not that I'm going to any conventions in the near future... but I digress. There could always be surprises, and it's not like I've been out there hunting opportunities. Maybe I should be more proactive -- no, scratch that, I probably should be more proactive. But I have a certain number of hang-ups, which long-time readers will know very well.
Besides, according to the received wisdom from the one convention I did attend last year, conventions actually aren't that great for authors who aren't already Big Names. They're fun, yes, but they're expensive, and usually a net loss, mostly because authors are likely to also be fans and be tempted by the Awesome Stuff the vendors offer.
What does work, again according to Those Who Know, is doing guest posts for blogs. But here, again, we hit well-established Anne Author Problems. That is, I have a very hard time "pushing" anything related to myself, and I feel like asking a blogger if I could do a guest post would be the worst, rudest, and most intrusive kind of pushing.
To add to that problem, I don't read any blogs right now, be they fiction-related or no. I have so much else going on in my life that I can't imagine when I'd be able to even read posts, to say nothing of any new books. Besides, my tastes are offbeat enough that I'm often a bit underwhelmed by fiction other people have recommended.
So, O readers, I do what I always do -- turn to you, and ask humbly for your help. Do any of you read fantasy/sci-fi blogs? Are there any out there with a special focus on fairy tale retellings, family-friendly stories, or women in speculative fiction? And, the sixty-four thousand dollar question -- do any of them ever feature guest bloggers?
More on Thursday, by which point I may also have more information on the Fun News (TM) I've been hinting at for the past few days. I may also have updated a story someplace. But which story, and where? What new secrets will it reveal? You'll just have to wait and see, won't you? Mwahaha. Thanks for reading, as ever!

10 Comments to My new toy:

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Geoffrey on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 11:16 AM
Oh Anne, you’re still thinking about it all wrong. Like there’s some magic recipe for success. Do you still not realize that everyone has to take their own path?

Just focus on writing the kinds of stories you want to read. If there’s anyone who claims to Know What Works, please ignore them.

In particular, I read blogs to be entertained, or for news about people I like. Family, friends, authors, etc. I would never appreciate having that experience interrupted by someone I don’t know spinning a sales pitch. That’s disrespectful of my time and attention. No matter how funny, witty, and clever you may otherwise be, if your ultimate motive is to sell books or increase your own fame, the audience will see through the act.

In listening to some successful authors, when asked “What did you do to become successful?”, they sometimes retranslate the question to “What do I have to do to become successful?” They then answer the new question thusly: “I don’t know. My own path was followed in an earlier time and would no longer work today.”

You may have noticed that I keep asking what you want. The reason is that there’s no reason you can’t have it. Even things that seem to be beyond your control. The world likes talented people. It rewards them. I mean, not all of them, and not always. There are lots of paths in the world, though, and talent opens up many pathways that would otherwise be closed. It can make the impossible trivial.

Now have a video: Vi Hart on Medium vs. Message

I know I’ve been a bit obtuse. I’m sorry. I’ll revisit the topic again at some point, and hopefully make more sense.

Oh, question: Which books have you been underwhelmed by?
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Anne on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 11:55 AM
That's a lovely sentiment, that there's no reason I can't have what I want. In reality, though, there are many reasons why I can't have what I want, and when you casually dismiss those reasons as unimportant, the message I hear is a patronizing "You don't really have problems, my dear, you just think you do", which is not what I think you intended to say. As for the books, I was sufficiently underwhelmed that I do not recall titles or authors. Thanks for the video but I get as embarrassed trying to watch such things as I would trying to make one, so I doubt I shall watch it even when I get to a computer on which that is a possibility.

Anne on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 11:57 AM
Also, I think you may have misunderstood the idea of the guest blog posts. The main focus of such a post would not be to sell books, but to discuss the topic around which the blog is generally focused from my own point of view. If people enjoy what I have to say, they might choose to follow my links and purchase my writing.

Geoffrey on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 4:40 AM
Ouch. I might need some aloe vera after that. In a random order:

You’re talking about one of two things. Writing essays for other people’s blogs, or letting others interview you. If that doesn’t make the best course of action obvious, I don’t know what does.

Underwhelming books… for me, anything by David Webber. Green Rider. Wuthering Heights. The Cryptonomicon. I usually don’t read things I don’t like. I’ll just stop in the middle if it’s not working out for me. If the story has been mediocre so far, I see no reason to suppose the writer will nail the ending, so I just bail. I’ve read some pretty horrible stuff, but the ones I listed are things that I read through because they came highly recommended. Some very highly recommended. What books would you recommend. (No classics please. They’re classics because Time itself recommends them.)

Without patronizing (please don’t think I’d do that), lets play a hypothetical. Suppose you have a protagonist who has problems, and desires. By the end of the story, you need your protagonist to overcome her problems and achieve her goals. Now, it’s hard because you don’t yet know how she’ll do that. But you develop a plan, or at least come up with a few things for her to try. You insert try-fail cycles. New challenges arise. But since you’re the writer, you know that in the end everything will work out. You’ve decided what kind of character development your protagonist needs, and how it will help her overcome her challenges and reach her goals. And she lives happily ever after (until the sequel).

Okay, so I normally hate Adam Sandler, but Bedtime Stories was pretty okay. At least the theme that you write your own stories was a good one, even if it was told in a ridiculous way.

I guess my point is that if you can solve problems for your characters, you can solve problems for yourself, too. Maybe you don’t know the solution. So find out. Or ask someone else for advice. Ugh (that’s frustration with myself). You know these things, so I don’t know why I’m saying them. Your problems are not insurmountable.

About the video… the point I was hoping you’d see is that as an artist, you don’t write for an audience, but create an audience. At least that was one of the points. I don’t know why I’m still rambling on. I’m probably still sounding condescending, and I don’t mean to, but I’m too lazy to back up now. So have some words.

Thanks for being patient with me. See you Thursday.

Anne on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 9:04 AM
See, this is why I got out of the recommending business, because I'm quite fond of David Weber, so we clearly don't mesh there. As for making things obvious, I'm sorry but it doesn't. You listed the two main types of guest posts without giving any further information and I'm rather stuck for what you wanted me to conclude from that.

Yes, I do need my protagonists to overcome their problems and reach their goals, but once again, fiction and reality are different. In fiction, I must solve the problems within a certain length of time or risk losing my readers' attention, and I have some control over the circumstances of the world. Reality is under no such constraints. People can and do spend their entire lives banging their heads against the same brick walls without ever seeing the door three feet to their right.

As for asking someone else for advice, what do you think I was doing in this post? And your only contribution so far -- apologies if you'll need more aloe after this, but tell me if I'm wrong -- seems to have been greeting my every suggestion with "Oh, that won't work." Telling me to create an audience is all very well, but how, in the most concrete terms, do I get the message out to that audience that my books exist? That's what I'm looking for suggestions on doing. I appreciate very much that you want me to believe in myself, but all the belief in the world won't magically make my books appear on shelves where people can see them.

Geoffrey on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 10:38 AM
As though faith in one’s self were some magical balm! I’m sorry, let me be explicit. For now, just focus on doing what you do best, and becoming better at it: writing. Don’t worry about marketing right now.

As for “guest blogging”… I understand the forms have a bit of overlap, but essays and blogs are different things. Musing on your own blog is fine and expected. Kinda what it’s for. Musing on someone else’s… I think your instinct is right, that it’s intrusive. Personally, I hate it when I see that. I’ve yet to read one. And can you imagine going to someone else and saying “Will you interview me for your blog?” What? Seriously? Why not “Can I interview you for my blog?” Isn’t that more natural? And then since you’ve interviewed them, they’ll post the link on their blog, too. And maybe even return the favor.

Anne on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 11:31 AM
Again, "focus on writing and don't worry about marketing" is a nice thing to say, but I'm afraid I'm just not altruistic enough to continue indefinitely giving years of my life and pieces of my heart to projects which fewer than a hundred people in the world ever see or care about. Point taken about guest essay-entries on blogs, but who in the world would I ask to interview? I don't read any authors who would be amenable to such requests from someone like me.

Geoffrey on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 11:18 PM
Networking. You’ll hear it a lot. It doesn’t mean what it sounds like it means. Well, it means that, too, but it means a lot more than that. I’m not even going to try and explain. But advise is free: get to know people at similar points in their careers. Starting or joining a writing group is a great way to do this. It doesn’t even have to meet in person. Second, figure out how to talk about yourself. You’re a wildly successful fanfic author with tens of thousands of readers who is now trying to break into the published world. You have a certain degree of “micro-celeb” status. It’s okay to exaggerate it a little if you need to, but I think you’ll find you really don’t need to.

Third, talk about things you like. It’s something you regularly steer away from. Trust that people who come to your website are already interested. It’s okay to share who you are and what your interests are. Some people won’t share those interests. That’s okay. But if you share things that mean something to you, even if it’s just a witty video, you’ll find that people who like similar things will keep coming back. Never pretend to be something you’re not, and don’t be ashamed of who you are. You know this already, but you still shy away from sharing.

As for asking for interviews, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Browse some first time authors. Pick one you like. Until they’ve done it a hundred times, most people are flattered to be asked. The worst they can do is decline.

I feel kinda terrible spelling things out like this, because it puts the cart before the horse. These aren’t tricks and gimmicks for “breaking out”. They’re just ways to be you and express who you are. Anne, I like who you are. I could see it in your writing. Others can, too.

Would you like help?

Anne on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 11:54 PM
*small sigh* Perhaps. Shall discuss in another venue.

Adam on Monday, January 20, 2014 7:26 PM
I know plenty of blogs that would let you guest post.
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